If this is your first visit here, you might want to start at the beginning.
What’s your name? Katharine. How old are you? 36. Where are you? Riverside Methodist Hospital.
“My staples are killing me. They itch so bad. Is there anything you can do about it? I’m going crazy.”
“There’s nothing we can do. We aren’t allowed to put anything on them and you have to stop touching them or you’ll give yourself an infection and you could die!”
But I can’t take it. I. Just. Can’t. Take. It.
They put my right hand in an oven mitt. It reminded me of this scene from Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, the equivalent of the cork on the fork.
I was totally losing it. I remember begging and pleading with my friend Cheryl to do something to make my head stop itching. There was nothing she could do. She tried to joke with me about how I worse than our kids, but I couldn’t appreciate it any of the well meaning humor.
Yes, more Ativan, that’s the ticket. And a sleeping pill if you’ve got it.
Ali is here. How did Ali get here? She’s sideways. That’s strange, normally she can hold her head up. Maybe I’m the one lying down. I’ll try to sit up. Can’t! Holy crap! I’m chained to the bed! Freaking monsters!!! She’s talking to me. Maybe she’ll unchain me if I listen. . . . .”David and I are here visiting Lottie in the NICU . . .” Oh, David is here, too. That explains the glowing blond angel behind Ali. Or does it? Lottie. That rings a bell. A baby. Yes, the preemie. Their daughter was a preemie. Wait, that’s not right. Not their baby. Someone else’s. “Wow, they’ve really got you on some strong stuff, don’t they?” she says. Is it that obvious? I try to nod. I try to ask her to unchain me. I try to ask about Lottie, but I can’t say anything. Ali and Angel-David are leaving. I’m still chained to the bed. What now? Don’t leave me for the monsters!
Ali and David really did come to see me, maybe more than once. At least I think David was there one time. David is very blond and always does look angelic to me even when I’m not pumped full of meds. Ali was at Riverside quite a bit in those days to visit little Lottie Rose. Lottie was born at 28 weeks (if I’ve got that wrong, I’ll correct it) and spent a very long time in the NICU. I don’t remember which one of us got out first, but she had already been in for some time before I was hospitalized, so I’m pretty sure she has my 7 weeks beat by quite a bit. I’m FB friends with her mom, Jessica, now. Today, Lottie is a happy 2-year-old who has already fought some incredible battles in her short life. I always think of Lottie and I as prison buddies having done time together at Riverside even though we were nowhere near each other in the hospital. I feel bonded to her even though I’ve never met her. I hope to someday.
As for being chained to the bed, that was real, too. Apparently, the mitt on the hand (or the cork on the fork) was not effective enough, so they put me in restraints to keep me from scratching at my staples, essentially tying me to the bed. They only had to do it to my right wrist since my left hand was curled uselessly against my chest. I don’t think it was wrong. I’m not sure what else they were supposed to do. I couldn’t resist the impulse (very common in patients with brain trauma) and they couldn’t let me rip my staples out–and, oh, I would have. But it certainly didn’t do anything to endear them to me. I remember every nurse I had in Rehab. I wrote glowing reports about each one before my release in hopes that they would receive gold stars or brownie points or something. I don’t remember any of my neuro-ICU nurses, except for Carmel who, as it turns out, was all the way across the pond in Ireland and never was my nurse. I’m sure that the Neuro-ICU nurses were just as caring, just as concerned and just as willing to go above and beyond the call of duty as the Rehab nurses were and I feel guilty that I only remember them in this distant and menacing way, but that’s how it is.
And now I feel an overwhelming need to go find corks for all our forks.